A week ago yesterday I found myself following a cloud through the high prairie of Eastern Colorado, drawn East by something more than a storm chasing bug. As soon as my wife and I got home from that outing we began making plans for another push into the Plains. By Tuesday the car was packed and we headed east to await the arrival of the remnants of the recent Pacific Hurricanes, a recipe for more beautiful spring skies. As predicted, we would see some some incredible skies and the photo expedition was a success but the unexpected twists and turns are what made the journey memorable. Hollers and Insects and Turtles, oh My!
A person who wanders out of familiar surroundings to make erroneous observations and stupid comments is commonly known as a Tourist. “What time of year do the Deer become Elk” is one we here in Colorado all the time. So as we travelled through Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri we engaged in the most entertaining discussion of the landscape. Is this a Holler? Is that a Holler? Do they even have Hollers this far North? What the Hell is a Holler anyway? I’ve now had the benefit of researching Hollers and Hollows on the internet and I still have no idea how to identify one.
As we got closer to the Missouri River we couldn’t help but notice a loud roar coming from the trees, even as we sped down the highway with windows closed. “Are they Locusts or Chiggers?” (more stupid tourist questions). It turns out, every seventeen years bugs called Cicadas emerge from eggs planted in the soil seventeen years earlier. For several weeks they make one hell of a racket, mate and lay more eggs in the ground that will emerge seventeen years later. Ounce for Decibel, these little flying insects must be the loudest creatures on earth.
So we were driving down a back road in Eastern Colorado, keeping our eyes peeled for Antelope when Tammy alerted me, “Stop! There is a Turtle in the middle of the road”. Thinking she was just making a stupid tourist comment, it took my a few seconds to process that she was dead serious. “Hurry before someone runs over it”. Never in a million years would I expect to see a sizable turtle walking along a country road in my own state of Colorado, yet there he (or she) was, plain as day. The next thing you know we have a bedding of grass and a three pound Painted Turtle in our cooler and we are trying to figure out where to take him. Can they jump? Do they bite? ah here we go again. As it turns out, Painted Turtles thrive in the water of the plains and this little guy was probably washed from his home in the recent torrential rains. We named him (or her) Ralph and released him along the banks of Kiowa Creek.
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